John Kasich draws fire after changing stance on gun control

Kasich hasn't won over gun control advocates yet.

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich angered gun groups with his changing stance on gun control.

And he still has work to do to win over gun control advocates.

The National Rifle Association-endorsed Republican called on President Donald Trump to implement "commonsense gun laws," such as banning bump stocks that can be used to make a semi-automatic weapon function like an automatic one, Kasich told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."

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Doug Deeken, director of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, slammed Kasich for what he sees as a "naked political play" to challenge Trump in 2020.

"It didn't work in 2016; I don't think it will work now," Deeken said.

Kasich's comments came shortly after a devastating school shooting in Florida that left 17 students and teachers dead. The shooter is accused of using an AR-15, which he obtained legally, according to police.

But in Ohio, Kasich has signed more than a dozen pieces of GOP-passed legislation in Ohio to ease access to guns. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his 2014 reelection bid. (The NRA picked Democrat Ted Strickland in 2010 when the incumbent from Appalachia had a strong record on gun access.)

On Sunday, Kasich's team removed a pro-Second Amendment section on his website, which he used to run for president against Trump in 2016. By Monday, it was replaced with a new heading: "Common Sense on the Second Amendment."

"John Kasich supports the Second Amendment and has signed multiple bills to protect gun rights. As a pragmatic conservative Governor Kasich also recognizes the need for common-sense solutions to our nation’s problems," the site reads.

However, as recently as December 20 Kasich signed a bill into law that would allow concealed carry of firearms in more places, including universities if their leadership approves.

That bill has tempered enthusiasm pro-gun control groups have had about Kasich's call for gun laws.

"I'd like to hear if he had it to do over again, he'd not have signed that bill into law," said Rev. Kristine Eggert, executive director of Ohio-based God Before Guns.

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Kasich hasn't won over gun control advocates yet. Many advocates told The Enquirer they're encouraged by his comments but want to see more.

Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, doesn't want to see Kasich sign any more bills expanding where you can carry guns, such as the one he signed last year allowing guns in universities and daycares.

"I'm delighted he's going in that direction," said Hoover said. "I'm also concerned he's not going to take a strong stance at the Statehouse. They keep weakening the gun laws."

Kasich needs to push for background checks on gun purchases and be active in pushing for an assault weapons ban, Eggert said.

"It's a good first step," she said of the governor's comments on CNN.

In Congress, Kasich voted for a 1994 ban on assault weapons but he opposed the Brady Bill, which required federal background checks on gun owners.

"The @NRA endorsed @JohnKasich & gave him an "A" rating in 2014. #Kasich4Us," Kasich proclaimed in a January 2016 tweet.

Kasich's political adviser, John Weaver, tweeted Sunday that Kasich's views on guns had "evolved" after the increase in school shootings.

"We want our leaders to be unafraid to observe, listen & learn. We urge the 'president' to follow suit," Weaver wrote.

Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said he would prefer that politicians like Kasich focus on new solutions, such as training teachers how to use firearms in schools.

"To us, the thing that is not common sense is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results," said Irvine, whose group offers the classes. Kasich has not attended or promoted them. "We are going to implement things that work rather than offer political soundbites."

During the CNN interview, Kasich said he doubted Congress would make any meaningful changes on guns.

"(D)o I think they can do anything on guns? I hope they prove me wrong, and they can, because I have no confidence in them,” he said.